01/11/2007

FBI may investigate police shooting of handcuffed black man in Houston

By JOE STINEBAKER, Associated Press Writer

HOUSTON- A woman who claims she saw a Houston police officer shoot and kill a handcuffed black man testified before a grand jury Wednesday, and federal investigators said they likely will launch a civil rights investigation.


The fatal shooting of a handcuffed suspect prompted local activist and frequent critic of the Houston Police Department, to demand a federal investigation. (AP Photo)
Houston police Officer Leonard D. Smith shot and killed Robert B. McIntosh of Houston during a traffic stop. Police say McIntosh, who was a passenger in the car and fled the scene, was shot after fighting with Smith and shooting him with his police Taser, which uses jolts of electricity to subdue people.

McIntosh's shooting prompted Quanell X, a local activist and frequent critic of the Houston Police Department, to demand a federal investigation, saying McIntosh was the victim of "a cold-blooded murder."

FBI spokeswoman Shauna Dunlap said Wednesday such an investigation likely will be announced soon.

"There is a strong possibility that in the next couple of days, we will open a civil rights investigation," Dunlap told The Associated Press.

In the past, federal authorities in Houston have prosecuted Houston police for civil rights violations when a local grand jury declined to indict them in shootings of civilians.

Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal said a grand jury heard testimony Wednesday from Yolanda Perry, who said she saw the officer shoot McIntosh after he was already in handcuffs.

"We went to the grand jury on that today because we had an eyewitness who said she saw something completely different than what everybody else saw," Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal said investigators also have statements from other witnesses who back the police officer, saying they heard the shots and then saw Smith handcuffing McIntosh.

Perry has not returned telephone calls from The AP.

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